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Tips for Author Marketing
Tips for Better Book Cover Design

Published on Friday, March 15, 2019

Tips for Better Book Cover Design

When you are self-publishing, you get to do all the jobs, including cover design. Whether you are looking forward to this task or dreading it, you need to approach it seriously because, unfortunately, a book IS judged by its cover.

A successful fantasy writer I know advises that you should buy the best art you can afford. That means you probably shouldn’t do this yourself, unless in addition to being a writer, you are also a fabulous artist. Also, whoever does the cover art may not necessarily be the one who lays out your cover design and there are some elements to a good cover that you will need to check off.

You can find folks who create cover art by searching online or looking at websites such as 99 Designs or if you decide not to hire help, there are plenty of other online resources such as the Book Cover Maker at Canva. Whichever you choose, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Look at newly released books to see what’s currently in vogue. There are definitely popular styles and you want don’t want to look dated. 
  • Look at books in your genre. While you want to stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to stand out so much that the reader can’t identify you. Think of historical romances. Readers expect that sort of cover and may never pick up a book that looks completely different.
  • If you are writing a multi-book series, make a plan for all the covers so there is a cohesive theme, color, and design. You might want to purchase all the artwork at once in case you can’t match it later. 
  • Keep your design simple and bold so that it is recognizable and eye-catching as a thumbnail image in a website or paper catalog. 
  • Don’t get so cutesy with fonts that your title is unreadable. Also be sure the type stands out clearly against your background image.
  • Remember you’ll need space for the ISBN and bar code. 
  • Plan a space where a sticker won’t be intrusive. Sometimes stores like to add “Signed by the Author” stickers or similar. My first book won an award after it was published so we added a sticker about that. (In later editions, that sticker became part of the book design.)
  • Ask influencers for reviews and testimonials ahead of publishing so you can include quotes on your back cover. 
  • Plan to update your cover design in a few years. An agent recently advised slightly re-editing older books, totally revamping the covers and calling them “second editions” to generate new interest in titles that have been around a while. 

While it seems unfair that readers judge a book before it’s even open, from a marketing point of view, you have to pique their interest from just the cover or they’ll never bother to open your book to read the story you worked so hard to give them. 

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Author: Kate Gingold Host

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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Kate Gingold from Sprocket WebsitesKate has been building websites with her husband Don since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Kate is an author herself. She writes books on local history, including the award-winning "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," a fictionalized account of the true story of Great Lake pioneering to the shores of Chicago and beyond to found Naperville, Illinois. 

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Marketing Author Interview

Following a presentation for In Print Professional Writers Group, Kate's husband (and publisher!) Don was interviewed by author Louise Brass for WBOM Radio. During the conversation, Don shared many of the marketing tips from his presentation. You can listen to it online here.